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My Blood Work Results!

I hope this blog entry helps those individuals who have started or are already on their raw foods journey. Please don’t take this as medical advice. I am just writing about my own experience.

Last month, I had some blood work done. Although I have wanted to get this done for a while, it wasn’t until I was in bad shape that I went to see my doctor. Basically, I was experiencing extreme fatigue and all I wanted to do was lay in the bed with the heater blasting in my room while I watched internet TV. It was a sad affair.

So I went to the student health center and talked to my doctor. I didn’t go into the whole raw vegan thing, I just told her that I had a vegan diet. I figured that there was no point in complicating things, so I just kept it simple. I told her how I was feeling and she recommended that I have some blood work done to check for nutritional deficiencies. So, she ordered blood tests for B12, Folate, Vitamin D, Potassium, Iron, my thyroid, and a variety of other tests. They took my blood and told me that I would receive the results in a week. It was pretty simple and I left the health center feeling so empowered. This was an opportunity to learn whether, after being raw vegan for over 4 years, I had any nutritional deficiencies. It took out all of the guesswork. If I was low in a nutrient, then I would find out.

Later that day, some of my results came back. My vitamin D levels were incredibly low (shown below). Not only was I below the cut-off for deficiency, I was actually closer to 0. It’s rare to get this low and apparently I was one of these rare statistics! Yay me!

Test Name                                        Result                         Abnormal                Reference Range
————————-                           —————                     ——–                     —————
VITAMIN D, 25-OH, D2                  <4 ng/mL
VITAMIN D, 25-OH, D3                     5 ng/mL
VITAMIN D, 25-OH, TOTAL             5 L                                                                    30-100 ng/mL

25-OHD3 indicates both endogenous production and supplementation. 25-OHD2 is an indicator of exogenous sources such as diet or supplementation. Therapy is based on measurement of Total 25-OHD, with levels <20 ng/mL indicative of Vitamin D deficiency while levels between 20 ng/mL and 30 ng/mL suggest insufficiency. Optimal levels are > or = 30ng/mL.

Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D by the action of sunlight on the skin. If we don’t get it from the sun, then our other sources for vitamin D are animal products, which is problematic considering that I have a raw vegan diet.

I received the rest of my results a few days later, and for the most part everything looked good. My thyroid was okay, folate levels were high, cholesterol, and everything else with a strange acronym was in the normal range; however, a few problem issues stuck out.

Test Name                                        Result                         Abnormal                Reference Range
————————-                           —————                     ——–                     —————
VITAMIN B12, SERUM                         304                                                        200-1100 pg/mL
Potassium (K)                                      3.6                             L                               3.7-5.2 mmol/L
FERRITIN                                             10                                                                10-120 ng/mL

Please note: although the reference range for Vitamin B12 is 200-1100 pg/mL, it has been reported that between 5 and 10% of patients with values between 200 and 400 pg/mL may experience neuropsychiatric and hematologic abnormalities due to occult B12 deficiency; less than 1% of patients with values above 400 pg/mL will have symptoms.

As shown above, my vitamin B12 was in the normal range, but it was still low. Ideally, I would like it to be in the middle of the normal range, so that is something I will work on.

My potassium levels were in the low range. How could this be? My diet is composed of fruits and vegetables, and they are full of potassium. Strange…but the results don’t lie. It makes me wonder if this is somehow connected with my vitamin D deficiency or another nutrient deficiency I may have.

Lastly, my iron levels (i.e. Ferritin) were also in the normal range, but that was low as well. Ok, no problem, this can be fixed.

Overall, these issues weren’t bad at all. Actually, now I know what to focus on. So, my plan is to hit it with all that I got. For one, because I live in State College, PA and it’s winter time, I will be taking vitamin D supplements until the summer. I am fine with this because it comes with the territory of living in the northern east coast. I love where I live and I am not trying to change it anytime soon. So that is something I can live with. The doctor gave me a prescription supplement of 50,0000 units of vitamin D to take for the next 6 months to increase my blood levels. After that, I will be taking 2,000 units everyday. In addition to the supplements, I will make more attempts to work near windows on sunny days and expose my skin to the sun.

For the last 3 weeks, I have also increased my intake of dark leafy greens, laver nori seaweed, and nutritional yeast. I am hoping that this will raise my blood levels of B12, potassium, and iron. Prior to my visit to the doctor’s office, I wasn’t eating a lot of leafy greens because they simply weren’t available during the summer. We had a very hot summer and it’s difficult to grow leafy greens in hot weather.

So, here’s my daily food plan for the next 6 months:

1 green smoothie everyday (or at least 5 days a week)
This will help with my potassium and iron levels.

1 dish containing dark leafy greens like collards, kale, dandelion, and anything else I can find
This will help with my potassium and iron levels as well.

1 meal containing 1-2 servings of nutritional yeast and laver nori seaweed
This will help with my B12 levels. Nutritional yeast is a great source of B12, giving you almost one-half of your daily requirements in 1 serving. Laver nori seaweed is also a great source of B12; although it is important to note that the jury is still out as to whether we can absorb the form of B12 that is present in this variety of seaweed.

Six months from now, I plan to return to my doctor’s office to have my blood levels checked again. This way, I can see whether my nutrient deficiencies have improved in response to my dietary changes. And, as a habit, I plan to get blood work done every 6 months. This way, I can know if I am deficient in anything. I have decided that I would rather be one of those raw vegans who is informed and is continuously making steps towards an optimal diet, instead of a raw vegan who guesses and keeps herself in the dark.

That’s all. Wish me luck!

-Brandi

Comments 38

  1. If you aren’t getting enough sodium (iodine) in your diet then your body doesn’t assimilate potassium properly. Please post your end results!

  2. Brandi – Hi! I just found this site and have been reading your posts and watching your videos. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    Please have your blood tests redone and post the results! I’m curious!!

    I have very white skin, as does my husband. We are outside a lot, year round, do not use sunscreen EVER (we use hats, long sleeves if we’re kayaking all day, so we don’t burn) and our Vitamin D levels were 8 and 10. We live in Massachusetts so maybe that’s part of the problem. We’ve added more raw food to our diet as well as learning about and using as many wild foods as we can – dandelions, nuts, nettle tea, etc. It’s all a process of learning as you go.

    And beets – don’t they have an absorbable form of iron in them? You were eating lots of beets. I heard that yellow dock (tincture) would increase the blood levels of iron, a friend used it and was told that it was “biologically impossible” for her levels to go up so high so fast after using yellow dock tincture for a month! (LOL)

    You are what you eat!

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